Instagram to ‘eliminate the confusion’ – will update language in terms of use

19 Dec 2012

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has responded to the outcry to its new terms of use, promising to eliminate the confusion. “We’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean,” Systrom said, promising to update the language, particularly around who owns the photos.

The new terms asked users to agree that Instagram is free to share information about its users with its parent company Facebook and outside affiliates and advertisers.

It also asked users to agree to license their content posted on the photo-sharing network royalty-free.

Another section revealed that Instagram doesn’t always intend to identify paid content from free content.

The controversial new terms of use to many smacked of Facebook control and resulted in many users deciding to transfer their digital lives back to Twitter and Flickr. National Geographic stopped posting photos to Instagram in response to the new terms and conditions.

A mea culpa?

In a new blog post, Systrom said the company will work to alleviate confusion in the coming weeks and answer concerned users’ questions.

In particular, the company intends to update the language used in the terms that conveyed to users they would lose ownership of their personal photos.

Systrom said legal documents can be misinterpreted and Instagram does not intend to claim ownership of users’ photos.

In terms of privacy, he said that if users set their controls to private Instagram will only share their photos with people users have approved to follow them.

The most interesting part in the entire response was Systrom’s defence of the company as a business.

“Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram.

“Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos.

“We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

“To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos and accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following,” Systrom said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years